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Amelie’s First Route 66 Road Trip

“Route 66!  Route 66!  Look, Grandma!  It’s Route 66!”  Those were the words my then 7 year old granddaughter gleefully exclaimed every time she saw a Route 66 sign, shirt, or anything else that read, “Route 66.”  Imagine my happiness and excitement hearing her say that over and over!

One of my granddaughters, Amelie, had expressed an interest in traveling Route 66 for a few years now.  I worried if I took her on a Route 66 trip when she was too young, or if waited until she was a teenager,  she may think it was boring and never show any interest.  I certainly did not want that to happen.   I’m a firm believer that we need to start molding the next generation(s)  of Route 66 enthusiasts, preservationists, business owners, and travelers.   Amelie had turned 7 years old in the summer of 2018 and her zest for the Route had never waned.  Additionally, I knew at her age, she would never forget her Route 66 trip, whereas, if I had taken her when she was younger, the risk of her forgetting the trip was quite real.  I decided it was time to get this adventure started and seal the deal with her love of Route 66.

I took steps to prepare Amelie for this trip.  Although she had seen many of my Route 66 photos and we had discussed the Route many times, I bought the following books for her to take on the trip, for her to look at and read, and have some decision making on where she wanted to stop: Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Adventure: A Photo Journal,”  by Anne Maro Slania Ph. D.;  Another Annie Mouse Adventure- Annie Mouse’s Second Route 66 Photo Journal: The Journey East,”  by Anne Maro Slania, Ph.D.;  Route 66 In Search of Ghosts and Treasures,” by Phyllis Chandler Grey; and of course, “Route 66-The EZ66 Guide For Travelers,” by artist and author, Jerry McClanahan.  I had already met each of these 3 authors and thought highly of them, especially Jerry who had invested many years traveling, exploring, and documenting Route 66.  Amelie and I had a pre-agreement that these books were the only entertainment she would use on our trip and her electronics could only be used while on the interstate or in our motel rooms.

Amelie and I already had our bags packed and left Springfield, Missouri on a Friday morning.  Since we lived in Missouri and can travel Route 66 from Springfield to the Missouri/Oklahoma state line any time, we opted to travel the interstate to Joplin, Missouri, then hop on the Route and stay on it for the rest of the trip.  We made our 1st stop at the Kansas state line on Route 66.  I am rarely a “selfie” person, but I love when Amelie is in the photo.  So, we decided to take a selfie at each Route 66 state line signs.  While driving through the approximate 13 miles of Route 66 through Kansas, we stopped at some of the icons: Cars on the Route, Front Street Garage, the Rainbow Bridge, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelie was very excited when we reached the Oklahoma state line.  A hearty and delicious breakfast awaited us at Clanton’s Café in Vinita, Oklahoma.  After filling up on our meals, we continued further west on Route 66.

 

 

 

 

Amelie had expressed an interest in going to Totem Pole Park.  It’s certainly an interesting and unique work of art.  The biggest totem pole was 90 feet tall and was the creation of the late Ed Galloway.   Also, we admired the 11 sided ‘fiddle house’ which is on the property.  Totem Pole Park is located 4-5 miles off Route 66 and is considered a side trip.  It was worth the drive.

 

 

 

 

I’m not going to lie, one of the places Amelie was most excited to see on this trip was the Blue Whale in Catoosa.  Upon reaching the Blue Whale, Amelie could not wait to get out of the car!  The closer she walked toward the whale, the more mesmerized she became.  She slowly entered the mouth of the whale and looked all around.  Amelie was in love!!

 

While there, she met our friend, Linda Hobbs, the care taker at the Blue Whale.  If you haven’t met Linda yet, be sure to do so; she’s a very sweet lady with beautiful blue eyes and a big heart!

Amelie and I ended our day with an overnight stay at an older Route 66 motel.  We read the Route 66 books she brought with her.  Of course, she has read them several times, but she loves books so much, she’s happy to read them many times.

 

Saturday was off to a great start when Amelie and I stopped in Chandler, Oklahoma at the art gallery of Jerry McClanahan.  Amelie loves art and Jerry and his lovely wife, Mariko, made us feel very welcome.  Amelie and I both enjoyed the art gallery.

We had a great time visiting with Jerry and Mariko, as well as meeting “Mystery Cat” out on the front steps of the art gallery.  Amelie and I both are HUGE animal lovers and a sweet little gray kitty hanging around outside the art gallery seemed happy to share its love with us.  It was not Jerry or Markio’s kitty and they had never seen it before, hence the name from the always clever Jerry McClanahan, “Mystery Cat.”  Before leaving Chandler, Amelie and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the very retro Boomarang Diner.

 

 

One of the Route 66 icons Amelie and I both wanted to visit was Pop’s, west of Arcadia.  Before going to Pop’s, I stopped at the other Arcadia icon, the Round Barn.  Amelie did not know barns could be shaped in various ways other than the traditional designed/shaped barns we were all used to seeing.  We read a bit of the history of the Round Barn; she seemed to really enjoy the second level and the idea of couples having their weddings, receptions, and even dancing there.

 

 

 

Leaving the Round Barn, Amelie could not wait for the next stop, Pops!  As we neared the parking lot, I heard her say, “Wow! That’s tall!” referring to the 66′ tall pop bottle outside Pops.  Once inside the store, we looked at all the different brands of pop over and over, so many times, our heads were spinning!  How does one make such a choice when there were so many to choose from?  We decided to think about it while we had ice cream at the diner in Pops;  Amelie chose a dip of vanilla ice cream and a dip of chocolate ice cream and I chose their rootbeer float-YUM! (It’s the lunch of champions, you know! lol)  After choosing a couple bottles of pop, we continued our journey west.

 

Of course, when driving through Oklahoma, don’t miss out on driving over the unique 1933 Pony Bridge with its 38 trusses.  It’s one of the “Must See” bridges on Route 66!  Also, check out the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton.

 

 

Later in the day, we arrived in Elk City, Oklahoma.  We got a room at the Flamingo Inn, located on Route 66.  I had stayed there before and knew it was nice, clean, and very reasonably priced.  (Thank you Dean Kennedy)  To Amelie, we may as well have been staying at the most fancy hotel around, in part, based on the previous night’s motel, as well as the appearance of the rooms at the Flamingo Inn-they were nice!  Amelie and I then walked next door to eat at Pedro’s, which served great Mexican Food.  After supper, we decided to drive around and explore.  The National Route 66 Museum was already closed for the day, but we walked around the outside of it and took some photos.

 

Driving around town, I saw Elk City’s park, a park that would make many other towns envious.  We were quite excited when we saw a large carousel in the park!  Although it cost us $1 each time she rode it, Amelie was thrilled to ride the beautiful carousel.  I loved the look of pure enjoyment on her face the first time she rode it, as she had never ridden one before.   After riding the carousel a couple times, we walked over to a tiny train in the park. We bought a ticket for her to ride it, but it seemed she loved the carousel ride more.  Amelie decided to play in the park on the playground awhile until nearly dusk.  Leaving the park, we returned to the National Route 66 Museum and photographed their spectacular neon sign at dusk, then settled into our cozy room for a great night’s sleep.

 

Sunday morning, Amelie and I packed the car and finished our Route 66 trip west through Oklahoma until we reached the Texas state line sign on Route 66.  I had been worried about Amelie being bored on the trip and worried that she couldn’t wait to get home.   As we got out of the car for our selfie at the Texas state line, Amelie exclaimed, “I want to go to Texas, Grandma!  I want to do Route 66 through Texas!”  Unfortunately, I had to return home for work.  I promised her we would travel the Route through Texas next summer.

 

Yep, I’m still smiling over her desire to see Route 66 through Texas…so that’s where her next Route 66 adventure will begin during the summer of 2019.  We hope to see you AND your kids, grandkids, school kids, etc.  on the Route!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Run, Friends, and the Honest Folks of Route 66

A few years ago, our close friend, Dean Kennedy, mentioned he was going to go to the Fun Run in Arizona.  He sounded so excited, however, I could not imagine why he thought running in the desert would be fun.  Finally, I said, “I didn’t know you were a runner.”  Dean quickly explained it was a ‘run’ of cool cars, mostly classic cars that met in Seligman, Arizona, then traveled Route 66 to Topock, Arizona.  Okay, now he was speaking my language: Route 66, cars, and the scenery of the desert that was so vastly different from my home in Springfield, Missouri.  Life was busy at the time, so his invitation to go along had to wait…that is, until this year.  My husband Richard, Dean, and I planned an epic trip out west on Route 66.  We were going to meet and visit friends along the way, attend the Fun Run, and end the trip at Fender’s River Resort in Needles, California before returning home.  I voiced a huge request: I wanted to stop in Erick, Oklahoma and try (again) to meet Harley Russell and I also wanted to seek out  The Angel of Route 66, Angel Delgadillo, in his home town of Seligman, Arizona.  Although I had met Angel once before, I did not want to miss another opportunity to see him again.

Our trip west kicked off as every Route 66 trip should, a great breakfast.  For us, that meant a stop in Vinita, Oklahoma at Clanton’s. (Yum!)  After breakfast, we traveled to Erick, Oklahoma.  We turned off Route 66 left onto Sheb Wooley Avenue and continued about a block to the Sandhills Curiosity Shop.  You can’t miss this place.  It’s an old brick building with all kinds of old metal signs attached to it.  It screams Route 66!  I walked to the front door in hopes of finally catching Harley there, but he wasn’t.  I was disappointed, but the outside of his building was so unique, I had to take some photos, like I had every time we’ve stopped by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few minutes, someone drove up and stopped-it was Harley! Dean and I had our cameras out, so Harley sent us to his house to photograph more of his excellent sign collection.  He opened his shop so Richard could go inside with him and visit.  What a unique sight Harley’s home (and yard) was!  We had to tear ourselves away and get back to Harley’s shop, because our goal was to meet and visit with him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harley was quite the fun character!  He was very kind, entertaining, charming, he brought lots of laughs, and he shared his knowledge about the unique items in his shop.  Don’t plan to go shopping there though, his treasures are not for sale.  We could have spent hours visiting with Harley and ogling his collections, but we had to continue our trip.  A bit of advice: Make time to stop and meet Harley.  He is a part of Route 66 you don’t want to miss.  Although he doesn’t sell anything, kindly put a little cash in his tip jar.  If he isn’t at his shop, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the uniqueness of the building itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward our trip to Seligman, Arizona. (That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves between Erick and Seligman.  We had a wonderful time exploring the Route, meeting with friends, and eating…a lot!)  As we entered Seligman, we began seeing cool old cars everywhere.  Everyone knows I love photographing classic cars and Route 66, so I went into photography overload!  However, none of that compared to what I saw next-Angel Delgadillo!  He was sitting outside the Snow Cap Drive-In preparing his saxophone to play.  What? I didn’t know he played music!  But he did, along with his older brother, Joe, (Angel is 91) and a friend, who Angel later told me had played music with them for many many years.  The crowd was entertained by the music of Angel on the sax, his brother and friend on the guitars, and a younger family member who joined them and played the drums.  What a special, unexpected treat, moments that will always be treasured!  Moments that I happily captured with photos and video with my camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was the first day of the Fun Run.  Excitement was in the air as folks lined the sidewalks of Seligman to watch the cars drive by on their way west on Route 66.  We parked on the west side of town and walked east, finally settling on a spot near the middle of town to take in the show.  As the cars and trucks drove by, I happily photographed most of them, until I saw I could only take a few more photos that would fit my camera card.  Well, that was a fun time filling up those 16 gigs!  Prepared, I took the camera card out and put a fresh one in.  I repeatedly told myself, “Don’t lose that camera card! Don’t lose the camera card!”  So I put it in the little plastic case and put it in my pants pocket.  Or did I keep it in my hand, worried it could fall out of my pocket?  I’ll never know, because, after taking a few more photos, it was time to leave and follow the parade of cars to the first stopping point on the Route.  As soon as we reached our vehicle, I emptied my hands and pockets and placed the contents on the floor.  Much to my utter shock and dismay, my camera card was gone!  How could that be?  I told myself not to lose it!  I just had it!  My mind quickly went back to the photos and videos of Harley and of Angel.  I wanted to cry, but there was no time.  Richard and Dean quickly knew I was in distress and immediately, we retraced our steps.  We went into businesses and asked if anyone turned in a camera card; nothing.  We stopped and spoke with residents along the way; nothing.  It was nowhere to be found, even though only minutes had passed since I last saw my camera card.  My heart sank, knowing the photos would not mean much, if anything, to the finder of it.  On top of that, there was no way anyone would be able to determine who the owner was, even if they wanted to return it.  With no other options, we had to leave and continue with the trip.

The remainder of the trip was great, with more fun with friends and more exploration.  My mind continually went to the lost camera card.  Since I hadn’t taken a turn at the wheel, I finally started driving.  At a maximum of ten minutes later, and I’m blaming either Richard, Dean, or both here, someone came up with the idea to drive a basically extinct portion of the Route west of Kingman, Arizona.  I almost got stuck, then whacked a huge rock, before backing into some type of desert attack bush with thorns, thorns which could loudly be heard scraping along the vehicle.  With a heavy sigh and a big apology, I got out of the driver’s seat and turned the driving back over to the experts.  We turned around and made a hasty retreat.  As a passenger again, I tried to think of plans to do my best to get that camera card back, a daunting, seemingly impossible task.  I began calling businesses in Seligman.  I began sending Facebook messages to businesses in Seligman.  Later, on the way home, we stopped in Seligman, made many contacts, searched yet again for the camera card, but turned up empty handed.

Before we returned to Springfield, I saw a Facebook post by the Route 66 Association of Arizona, asking people if they enjoyed the Fun Run.  I responded positively, as I really did have a great time.  As an afterthought, I made an additional comment about losing my camera card.  Soon thereafter, I received a message that a man found it and was and trying to find the owner.  Really?  No way!  Dare I get my hopes up? Hmmm, how many other people lost a camera card in Seligman the same day I did?

I was thrilled to learn a kind and honest gentleman from Flagstaff, Arizona really had located my camera card.  He worked hard to find the owner and thankfully, an awesome young lady with the Route 66 Association of Arizona put the gentleman and I in contact.  Within a few weeks, I had that lil camera card of mine in hand, complete with every photo and video I took.  I did my best to show my gratitude to the gentleman for finding and returning the camera card, but nothing seemed adequate.

Ever since falling in love with Route 66 and her people, I’ve always said they are the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.  I want to add two other words to their description: honest and dedicated.  That’s what real Route 66 folks are made of.

 

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There’s Never Enough Time

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t see everything on Route 66 in two weeks?  Well, It’s true!  I learned that during my recent trip from Springfield, Missouri, to Winslow, Arizona.  Two weeks wasn’t nearly enough time on Route 66 to see everything I wanted to between those cities.  While I mainly focused on seeing New Mexico and a small portion of Arizona, I was finally able to see a few sights along the way that  I hadn’t seen yet, including the “Sand Hills Curiosity Shop” in Erick, Oklahoma, as well as Lile Art Gallery and Texas Ivy Antiques, both in Amarillo, Texas.

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Richard traveled with me during the first half of the trip, however, he rode his motorcycle and I drove our car.  We decided to spend our 10th Anniversary on Route 66, specifically at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  Needless to say, our stay there was beyond our expectations.  Besides our clean, comfortable room, there was amazing neon, and best of all, friends!  The owners of the motel made us feel at home.  Each night, everyone sat outside and visited with each other, even though a few people were strangers.  That didn’t matter, because all of us had a common love for Route 66.

Richard drove me around so I could take photos.  At night, I was able to photograph lots of beautiful neon.  During the day, we drove around on Route 66, exploring and taking photos.  Sometimes, our friend, Dean Kennedy, went with us on our drives.  Richard and I stopped and visited with the owners of the Safari Motel, (Dean advised us they had the most comfortable beds on Route 66) and we also stopped and visited with the owners of the Roadrunner Lodge Motel, which is a fantastic work in progress.  They allowed us to see their most recent renovated room; beautiful!  While in Tucumcari, we saw an awesome car show with numerous classic cars and trucks.  I never get tired of seeing those old rides!

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After a week had passed, Richard and I kissed each other goodbye.  While I was sad he wasn’t traveling on west with me, I was excited about the adventures of the coming week.  I drove on to Albuquerque.  Luckily, our friend, Dean, graciously allowed me to stay with him and his elderly mother, while I was there.  I was thrilled when Dean offered to drive me from one end of Central, also known as Route 66, to the other, so I could take photos.  He probably deserves a medal, because he took me out again after sunset, so I could photograph the neon on Central.  The 4th Street portion of Route 66 will have to wait until another trip…there was just not enough time.

Dean and I met with some of our Route 66 friends the next morning.  We were going to climb La Bajada Hill, which is an old alignment of Route 66.  It was an amazing hike, made better by being with friends who were also excited about the making the journey.  The views along the hike were spectacular!

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A few days later, Dean and I traveled to Gallup, New Mexico.  Of course, an over night stay at the El Rancho is a “must” when in Gallup.  The El Rancho is a beautiful historic hotel where movie stars once stayed when they were filming westerns, years ago.  Each room is named after a movie star from that era.  At night, the pink glow of neon on the exterior of the hotel made it feel even more glamorous.

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The next day, Dean and I traveled to the Painted Desert National Park, where we met with two Park Rangers and several other Route 66 lovers.  They took us on a bus ride and showed us lots of relics from Route 66; at one time, the Route went through the Painted Desert.  The highlight of the tour was the trip to the Painted Desert Trading Post.  The trips to the trading post are few and far between, so if you ever have the chance to see it, please do!  It’s on private property, but the Park Rangers received permission to take us there.

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The next day, we traveled to Holbrook, Arizona, and had a great stay at the Globetrotter Motel.  My room was decorated differently than Dean’s, but they both were homey, adorable, and very clean.  After a couple days, Dean and I made a few stops at popular Route 66 sights as we drove to Winslow, Arizona.  We “stood on the corner” for a few minutes, then ended our trip west before returning to Albuquerque.  The next day, I hopped in my car and made the long trip home…on the interstate.  Not that I didn’t want to see more of Route 66, but I had run out of time.  It seems there is never enough time when you’re on Route 66.

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